Harvard Medical School has a long and distinguished history in basic research in the fields of sleep and circadian rhythms, and is home to advanced programs of both clinical care and patient-oriented research on the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. Recognizing both the importance and the strength of this emerging discipline at Harvard Medical School, Dean Joseph Martin formally established the Division of Sleep Medicine at HMS in 1997. The goal of the HMS Division of Sleep Medicine is to foster maturation of a program forging a path of discovery while providing the highest standard of clinical care and training for the next generation of national leaders in this discipline.

Sleep medicine, including sleep and circadian rhythm research as well as clinical sleep disorders medicine, has grown substantially over the past 50 years at Harvard Medical School. It currently serves as the focus of the efforts of approximately 160 faculty members at Harvard Medical School and affiliated institutions. The annual amount of financial support for the research grants awarded for sleep and circadian research to Harvard-affiliated institutions is approximately $80 million per year in NIH funding. The clinical programs at Harvard’s affiliated hospitals include about 5,000 bed-days of diagnostic/treatment polysomnograms and over 20,000 outpatient visits annually. This represents one of the largest such research and clinical programs in the nation. The Division of Sleep Medicine aims to develop a cohesive university-wide program by establishing the infrastructure to bring together the faculty engaged in this field. 

The Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine has become a unifying center for a growing community of Harvard faculty and fellows working in many diverse areas related to sleep and circadian biology. The Division of Sleep Medicine's affiliated faculty bring together clinical and basic science departments from across the Medical School, as well as the other faculties at Harvard University including FAS and HSPH, and are among the leaders in their respective fields.